The Craftsman Truck Series has competed at Circuit of the Americas three total times. One team has controlled all three races while building up an unprecedented winning streak.
Front Row Motorsports driver Zane Smith won the Truck Series race at COTA on March 25 after a late caution erased Kyle Busch’s five-second advantage. He celebrated on the road course’s frontstretch for the second consecutive season, and he made it three straight for Front Row Motorsports.
The first-ever Craftsman Truck Series race at COTA also featured the No. 38 Ford F-150 doing a burnout. However, Todd Gilliland was the driver as he took part in his final Truck Series season before he moved up to the Cup Series.
Smith had one of the three best entries during the 2023 trip to COTA. He led 16 laps while Busch led 12 and Ross Chastain led 10.
However, Busch was ultimately buried in the middle of the field after a caution occurred at the end of Stage 2 due to Parker Kligerman’s stalled No. 75. He had to go down pit road for fresh tires. Smith was able to take the lead after he pitted early. Chastain also lost several positions due to a fueling issue on pit road.
Smith Now Has the Points Advantage
The Craftsman Truck Series drivers have completed four races so far in the 2023 season. Only two full-time drivers have captured wins while a guest driver, Busch, won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Smith has achieved the most success. He kicked off the year by winning at Daytona International Speedway after rain brought an early end to the season opener. He celebrated his second consecutive win at the superspeedway, one that punched his ticket to the playoffs once again. Fast-forward to March 25, and Smith added his second win of the season.
Christian Eckes is the other full-time driver that has won a Truck Series race in 2023. He captured the event at Atlanta Motor Speedway and celebrated his first win since the 2021 season. Eckes also joined Smith in the playoff field.
The reigning Truck Series champion now has an advantage in the battle for the regular-season championship. He has two wins to Eckes’ one, and he has 11 total playoff points. Eckes has eight while Matt Crafton, Tyler Ankrum, and Carson Hocevar all have one each.
Gilliland’s Win Took Place After He Recovered From a Penalty
The inaugural race at Circuit of the Americas was a unique affair for the Craftsman Truck Series drivers. They had to contend with rain, aggressive moves, and several unfamiliar turns.
Gilliland had his own hurdles to overcome. He captured the Stage 1 win after passing Tyler Ankrum, but he had to serve a penalty after a trip down pit road. This dropped him to the rear of the field. Though Gilliland was able to recover and finish Stage 2 in the ninth position.
Gilliland continued to showcase a strong No. 38 Ford F-150 during an event that only featured cautions for stage breaks. He continued passing several drivers before ultimately taking the lead for good with six laps remaining.
Gilliland held on until the checkered flag waved, and he won his first race with Front Row Motorsports. This is the win that kicked off the team’s dominant run at COTA which has since featured two more wins in Texas.